Real Estate & Estate Planning Questions – (Q & A)

Feb 2017


I have a few questions that I hope you can help me with. My husband is retiring in a few months and we’ve decided to move out of state to be closer to our children and grandchildren. My first question deals with the sale of our home. My next-door neighbor has a friend who is interested in buying our home. We have never sold a home before and I want to know what we should do to make everything legal. Do you think I need a realtor? My next question deals with our estate documents. We have wills and powers of attorney. Do you think those need to be changed when we move?


Congratulations to you and your husband on his retirement. I also wish you and your husband nothing but the best in your new home.

In reviewing your situation, at this point in time you do not need a realtor. What you need is a real estate attorney. The job of the realtor from the seller’s standpoint is to find a qualified buyer for your property. Since you already have that, there’s no reason to engage a real estate agent. On the other hand, whether you had a realtor or not, I would tell you most definitely you need a real estate attorney. The role of the Attorney is to make sure things are legal and that you are protected.

In the home-selling process the first step is for the purchaser to sign a purchase agreement. The purchase agreement is probably the most important document because it sets the terms and conditions of the sale. Not only will the purchase agreement include the cost of the purchase but also what items are included or excluded. The agreement will also address if the buyer has the right to have the home inspected and how any issues with regard to the inspection are resolved. In addition, the purchase agreement also addresses other issues such as how the purchase will be financed, when the closing is and when the new buyer takes possession. Closing and possession are not always at the same time.
If there was a real estate agent involved, they typically would use a standard purchase agreement and then make adjustments based upon the individual situation. Since you do not have a real estate agent to draw up the purchase agreement that is where a real estate attorney would be involved.

The norm for most real estate transactions is that after both parties approve the purchase agreement and any inspection issues have been resolved, the next step is the closing. The closing is where the title for the property is transferred.

At closing, as the seller you will sign a variety of documents and give the buyer a title policy. The title policy protects the seller and the buyer if there is ever any dispute as to the ownership of the property. The real estate attorney you hire will deal with the title company and any of the legal documents you may be required to execute.

I believe that whether you are a buyer or seller and whether a realtor is involved or not, each party needs their own lawyer. The lawyer’s job is to protect you and to look out for your best interests. My recommendation is that you retain an attorney who is experienced in handling real estate transactions.

With regard to your estate planning needs, I believe it makes sense to have new medical and durable powers of attorney, along with a new will drafted when you establish residency in the new state. Every state’s laws are a little different and when you move to a different state it makes sense to redo estate planning documents. Remember, the reason you do any estate planning is because you love your family and having up to date documents will make life easier for your loved ones, and after all, isn’t that the goal?

Once again, congratulations and good luck in your new home.